Home / Interview: How to become a successful online teacher?

Are you considering teaching English online to earn some extra income from the comfort of your own home, or a backpackers hostel in the location of your dreams? Make sure to read this amazing blog with Kate our online guru! She is sharing very useful tips on how to start? What do you need to do to become a successful teacher? How to find the right company to work for?!

Tell us something about you & your path to teaching English online?

My career started back in 2014 when I decided to teach English abroad. My first destination was sunny Malta – dreamy, right? I was teaching at a school in Malta’s busiest region Sliema and as my time went on, I built relationships with students. When they had finished their schooling they used to ask me to continue giving them lessons via Skype. At the time, teaching English online wasn’t that big and at first it seemed strange to me.

I basically ended up teaching several students through Skype and eventually realised I could be earning a much bigger salary then what I was earning. That was my a-ha moment! Since then, I’ve worked with numerous online employers and have gone onto start my own small business online for Teaching English through Skype – check it out here!

Can you remember what was your first online teaching company that you worked for? Why did you choose to work with them?

I sure can! The first company I worked for was Fluentify. A colleague of mine at the time had recommended it and I said I would give it a bash! The reason I chose this company is because they were European based (based in Italy) and I knew that the time zone wouldn’t be too tricky – a lot of the bigger companies around the world are Asian-based.

Did you feel prepared for your first lessons?

Because I had taught in the classroom, I didn’t feel too nervous. Although, I think some level of nerves is probably a good thing (it means you care about doing a good job). I definitely felt prepared as there is a world of resources out there and even tutorials of “how to deliver the best lesson online” etc. Especially now, it is growing every day (with the resources following).

P.S A lot of online companies will give trial lessons too to make sure you’re extra prepared!

Any tips for the interview? How to successfully pass the interview & get an online teaching job?

An Interview for an online teaching position is exactly like an interview for any other job and the usual etiquette applies:

  • Be on time (I can’t stress this enough. On the button)
  • Dress appropriately. Even though you at home online, you still need to look professional (From the waist up of course)
  • Do your homework. Before your interview, make sure to research the company – Look at how they operate. How many tutors they have and what software they use for their lessons. 
  • Be you! Just because you are behind a screen doesn’t mean they can’t pick up on different traits/body language. 

What age groups do you teach? How do you manage your schedule?

Through the years, I have taught all ages and all nationalities. At the moment, I am mainly focusing on teaching adults with a particular focus on Exam English (IELTS and TOEIC exams). 

Funnily enough, even though I teach online, I am still very much a pen/paper person so I definitely need to write all my lessons down on a calendar so I can organise my time around this. However, most online companies you work for will have a schedule/calendar system that will generate emails to you a few hours in advance to remind you that you have a lesson coming up – Technology, eh? We don’t even have to remember

As an online English teacher, what are the most important considerations when considering teaching platforms to join?

One of the biggest thins is time-zone. Depending on what company you go for you have to consider if you can work in that time zone.

Another big thing for me is reading reviews. Do your research and look at what previous employees are saying about the companies – it is worthwhile!

Can you make a fulltime career from teaching English online? I think the most common question we receive is how much can you earn weekly?

Without a doubt! Actually, this was my main source of income for about 2 years and it is fantastic because you can be anywhere in the world and be making money – it is freedom. 

Salaries can vary company to company. What happens most with online companies is that you build your way up to a bigger pay scale. The more lessons you have, your “rating” goes up and so on and so forth. This is why it is so important to deliver the best lessons possible and you will be rewarded! 

What has been your most rewarding experience as an online English teacher?

You get to have an exciting and different day each day!

Some people enjoy a 9-5 job in an office, which is amazing! However, some have an office job merely because it is a job and it pays the bills. For those people, time might tick very slowly throughout the day. Reflect on whether you are enjoying the work that you do. Don’t let life pass you by without enjoying it. In my opinion, it is very difficult to have a boring day at work when you are an online teacher. You always leave work with at least one exciting, funny, or interesting story to tell!

Now with COVID-19 outbreak do you have more students & lessons?

Yes and Yes! The Online teaching market has never been so buzzing. It is a great chance for students to buckle down and really focus on improving their English (Not to mention to stimulate their brains!) 

Any tips for people who are considering teaching online? How to be a successful online teacher?

This is repeating what I touched on before but it is so important to choose the right company – especially if it is your first online teaching post. Your first experience as an online teacher will shape what expectations you and the students have of online teaching. You need to start off on the right foot (virtual foot in this case)

Put time and effort into lesson planning – a student can tell when you haven’t prepared. It’s not a good look! Having lessons prepared gives you the confidence to deliver a lesson with ease. Don’t forget that you can recycle lesson plans with different students so each time you deliver that lesson, you become more and more of an expert!

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